Sunday, March 29, 2015

First Birthday Celebrations.

   Today is little Grandson's first Birthday and I have been to see him and join in the celebrations. It meant driving to London this morning, which was fine except I'm hopeless at directions and even more hopeless at using a Sat-Nav. I did try once, when a friend loaned one to me, and ended up shouting at the infuriating woman whose voice was telling me what to do. So now I look up the route on my computer, print it out and then sort of learn it before I do the drive.. Anyway this morning I was driving to their new house in Leyton and although I had pretty much memorized the directions, I still managed to get lost, went through the dreaded Blackwall Tunnel three times (don't ask!) and arrived, completely pooped, after two hours.
   It did improve after that, though I'm not sure that the little one  knew it was his Birthday. He certainly  realized that it wasn't a normal day because of the balloons floating around the house and everyone wishing him a Happy Birthday, and he was enjoying the food. It was a gathering of (mostly) Polish friends; one couple have a six month old baby, and two others are about to give birth, so it was very child-centred, naturally enough.  The other three guests were gay men, and I was the only grandmother.. And then they sang Happy Birthday in Polish - which I couldn't join in with,
Ah well, everything changes.
   It was so lovely to see them, and to see the new house which has been mostly done, but which has caused them so much aggravation. There are still things which are not finished, or have been badly finished, but Son seems to have it under control and the results are very good on the whole. It has taken its toll though, and he looks absolutely exhausted. I hope that now they can relax a bit and start to enjoy living there. Hearing about their awful experiences with their builder makes me feel even more nervous about my move - but I just have to be positive.
   This weekend Daughter has been away on a Hen Weekend. They went to a very grand-sounding house in Oxfordshire, with a pool, sauna and spa, I haven't  heard from her but she was due back this afternoon. Her partner has been in charge of Grandson and the baby on his own for the weekend, so I look forward to hearing how he coped. I saw him yesterday morning when I took Grandson to his football training, and he was in very good spirits, having had a fairly good night with just one child.
Of course Grandson is a help anyway, so last night was probably OK.
   Nothing much is happening here, though I feel I should be doing more to get moving. I have a surveyor preparing a report on the house in Shoreham, and have heard that my buyer would like to complete the sale in June. That gives me a bit of breathing space, but it's not that far off. I have had a couple of builders recommended, and I need to get some plans together. One thing is for sure, I'll have to get rid of so much stuff when I move. I look around at all the furniture and things I have gathered around me over the last 30 years and I  feel rather sad. Most of it I love, but there simply won't be room for it all....
   By the way, driving back was much better, thank heavens. I had the reverse route pretty fixed in my head, and only had to go round Bow Roundabout the once ; )

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Slow, Slow, Quick Quick Slow,,

   Not much has happened since my last post, at least I haven't moved yet. I have been busy looking at more houses and waiting for my sale to progress. But it's slow. None of the houses have been as appealing as the little house in Shoreham, and although it's really small compared with where I live now, it could definitely be charming once it's gutted, fumigated and completely refurbished!! Strangely, something about it definitely speaks to me - and not just me; everyone else I have shown it to has had a similar reaction. It looks somehow familiar, and even Daughter felt the same, while we all acknowledge that it really needs a lot of work. I'm feeling rather nervous about it for a couple of main reasons: firstly it's obvious that I couldn't live there while the work is being done,so will have to rent somewhere for a couple of months and secondly I have to find a builder!
   Believe me, I don't underestimate what's involved; I have done building work many times before and it is nearly always trying if not downright horrible. Finding a builder you can trust to do the work, as agreed, on time, on budget and before you all fall out terminally can  be difficult. And here am I, seriously thinking of doing it again.
   Meanwhile my house (well, Maisonette) has been surveyed and I have just been sent a copy of the survey. It is purely and simply 27 pages of negativity, with a fair bit of  bias against 100 year old property in a seaside location thrown in. How, I wonder, have I managed to live here happily and comfortably for a mere twelve and a half years? How have I  managed to stay dry and cosy, with sound electrics, lovely wood fires in winter and perfectly functioning gas central heating? How come I haven't been driven mad by traffic noise or fallen off the balcony? It's absurd.. but it's another thing that's slowing me down. I'm staying calm and giving myself time to think before I react.
     Son, however, has just finished his trial by builder, and they are all about to move into their
new house in Leyton. I'm longing to see it as I have seen how much work they put into choosing every detail: wood floors, bathroom tiles, kitchen surfaces, radiators, paint colours, lighting and furniture. The timing of the move is great as little Grandson will be a year old on 29th of this month,
so I'm going to see the house and celebrate the first Birthday that weekend. His Mum had her first Mothering Sunday last weekend, and that was momentous - I think they had a really nice day. We certainly did, as Daughter and I took big Grandson and little Granddaughter to L'Eglise, a lovely French restaurant just across the road. Son treated us to a couple of glasses of pink champagne (by remote cash transfer as he couldn't be there ;)) which was bliss. and we had a super meal.
   And the latest news is that little Grandson is walking. Slow, slow, quick quick slow.....

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Pastures New..

Here I am on a beautiful and bright Saturday morning, ready to whizz off to Shoreham, which is not too far up the coast, more or less half way between Brighton and Worthing. I have been looking around the whole area for a few weeks now, and have settled on Shoreham because it is a nice little town with s character of its own, and a feeling of community which is lamentably absent from the "suburbs" of Brighton and Hove. This feeling is most important for me - I've lived in truly urban settings for the last
27 years (15 in Cambridge and now 12 here) and before that I was in the country, or in a village and all of those I loved, but I'm afraid the suburbs give me the creeps. I dread twitching lace curtains (or lace curtains of any kind really) and the kind of secret watchfulness that seems to typify the suburbs, Maybe it comes from having grown up in a very suburban area, and then escaping to London, where I lived and worked very happily in the kind of obscurity that Londoners seem to create effortlessly. It's not that they don't care  about everyone else,  just that they get on with their lives in a kind of bubble and don't concern themselves with the rest of the world unless it makes its presence felt.
   Anyway, off to Shoreham this morning to look at a little house I had first seen last week. It's not perfect, and let's face it what is? But in a nice position and with a sunny, grassy piece of garden in the front. Small - but most places would be after this; I have three bedrooms, three bathrooms, three reception rooms and a kitchen, balcony and garden. Too much really, plus a lot of stairs. And a lot of cleaning. Today I went back to the little house (which needs a lot of work), taking the most negative friend I have, so that I could get all the pros and cons sorted out. And it turns out there are more cons than pros - at least today!! It's so hard to make up my mind, and I expect I'll feel differently again tomorrow.
   At least my house is sold, and to a cash buyer, so I'm hoping it will go through smoothly. Oh it's bound to be a trying and stressful time but I do believe it will all be fine in the end, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Back from the Future...

Well hello there - where have I been these last two years you may well ask? And it's a long story which I won't bore you with. At least I won't bore you with all of it.
   To those of you dear, kind and faithful readers who have asked - yes I did come back from Thailand
in one piece, and a very tanned and relaxed piece it was. I hadn't been prepared for the strange, wet, heat that kind of slaps you in the face when you arrive in Thailand. But soon did get used to it, though I did make use of the air-con in the hotel as sleeping would have been out of  the question without it!
   Mostly it was Grandson and I who splashed about in the gorgeous pools and the blue, blue sea. And those two weeks positively flew by. We saw temples and elephants (poor things, they were tied up and looking very dusty - the elephants I mean) and we ate some exotic food and generally lazed about.The big surprise to me was that long-distance flying wasn't nearly as awful as I had expected it to be. We flew Emirates both ways, stopping briefly in Dubai, and though it was sometimes tedious, it was on the whole comfortable and made more so by the lovely flight attendants. Coming back to a still-freezing England wasn't great, and we were very tired. Still, it all seems a very long time ago now.
   I'll move swiftly on and try to give you the rundown on our family since then: and there has been a fair amount of change... to begin at the end, I now have two more utterly gorgeous Grandchildren! Lucky me.  Son and his lovely girlfriend (she is Polish if you remember)  had a baby boy last March, so he is nearly a year old. He arrived two weeks early, giving everyone a bit of a shock - and was poorly for a while. He had bad jaundice and his Mum was poorly too. In fact they all three spent the first 5 days of his little life in hospital, so it was a worry. And then he turned out to be a non-sleeper who screamed when he woke up or was unhappy. Poor things, they were pretty desperate at times, as well as being constantly tired.( I remembered that Son had been similarly non-sleeping, though he didn't scream, and how like a zombie I was until he started sleeping at about 11 months.) Anyway, he is such a happy little boy now, a beloved darling, and very bright and lively. He's a good eater too, which is a blessing!
   Daughter and her lovely Boyfriend (the lawyer, you may recall) have also reproduced, and a darling little Girl she is too. She was born last November, also 2 weeks early, and could not be more different from her little cousin, She has slept, fed and smiled since she arrived - and as she is now nearly four months old will soon  be trying out Daughter's cooking. She has already been much travelled, as they went to Egypt for a quick week  in the sun after Christmas, and they are planning an Easter holiday in Abu Dhabi. Lord knows, we didn't even think of taking off to exotic places with our children, but it seems to be perfectly normal now.
    Son and Girlfriend and Baby all went to Poland for Christmas - not quite so sunny of course - and their trip coincided with the baby having 'Separation Anxiety' (spot-on timing at 9 months), which wasn't too much fun for them, and then the poor little mite got a chest infection which turned into bronchitis and meant he had to have antibiotics. Mind you it was bloody freezing there...
   And while they were all away, I got bronchitis too! I have to say it was the first time in two years, but horrible nevertheless. We'll draw a veil over that and I'll just say what wonderful friends I have - they all rallied round: one friend in particular made me the best chicken soup I have ever tasted, so it wasn't all bad.
   And now, you catch me as I'm leaving this house - after 12 years I'm moving. Where? well not too far as I now have three grandchildren, plus my two childer and their lovely partners to brighten my life.
Enough for now though - I'm off to bed, but delighted to have caught up a bit with you all. Night night.